How Covid-19 has made 'business unusual' the new

Drawing on resources like quality staff and past experiences can help businesses overcome the Covid crisis, premium electrical supplier Haslop & Mason believes

South African businesses can come out of Covid-19 stronger and more effectively prepared for any emergency that may crop up in the future.

That's the message from Haslop & Mason managing member Kevin Dersley, who was quick to admit that the first few weeks under lockdown had been "extremely difficult and trying".

But South Africans are a hardy bunch, Dersley said.

"I've always believed in having a war chest; resources comprising items of value - be it financial resources, trustworthy staff or drawing on past experiences," he said.

While many obstacles faced by businesses big or small were unavoidable, it was "vitally important for our staff and the community which depends on us that we survive", Dersley added. "We believe that most businesses can go forward having learnt from the experience, with firm survival strategies in place."

Being under stringent lockdown brought its share of challenges, but Dersley said that having an extensive stock in place made it easier to service customers as lockdown regulations allowed businesses to once again operate.

Level 5 of the lockdown meant that Haslop & Mason had to perform all operations remotely, with only emergency services allowed.

Dersley said obtaining the necessary permits during Level 4 presented its own set of challenges but that, while it may have taken a bit longer to source out-of-stock items, customers were understanding and patient.

With regard to the ongoing need for improved safety measures, Haslop & Mason, a premium electrical supplier in the Eastern Cape to the automotive and manufacturing industries, is a fervent believer in the concept of a 'new' normal.

As things return to this new normal - things will never be the same again, Dersley said - the company needed to ensure that it could operate at maximum capacity while maintaining its "Best in Business" status - at the same time ensuring that staff and customers were safe and well-protected.

"What is a fact," Dersley said, "Is that "virtual service" is part of the new normal. Where we are able to use it - by holding webinars, video calling or remote access assistance - we will do so.

"Where that is not possible, we have a team that is monitored, protected and educated on the need for protocols and safety procedures. Sanitising of buildings, vehicles, stock and people remains an ongoing priority."

Dersley said that for the long term, Haslop & Mason's top priority remained the safety of employees, suppliers and customers.

A policy of new practices was installed at the beginning of Level 4, he said, under which all employees underwent an induction process before being allowed to enter the premises.

"We will need a mindset change," Dersley said. "The continued operation of Haslop & Mason will rely on us keeping the virus out of the workplace."